If you own a BlackBerry, and you one day pick it up to find the screen all white with a message about reloading the software, don’t panic, there is hope!

The other night I discovered my BlackBerry Tour showing me nothing but a white screen with a message about reloading my operating system (OS).  After a few seconds of panic, I started doing a search for information and found the video embedded below on CrackBerry.com.

If you follow it exactly you will get your system back up and running, but it will completely wipe all data on your phone. If you have backed up your phone via the desktop manager recently, you’ll be able to restore your phone without much pain, but if you haven’t … then welcome to setting up your phone all over again.

In short, make sure to back up your phone, and for added safety, we also recommend using Google Sync.  Even if you aren’t a huge fun of Google, don’t worry about it, just set up an account to use it for storage, and then with Google Sync installed you can backup your contacts and calendar on a constant basis to the Google servers.  If your phone should get “nuked”, install Sync again and you can pull the information back to your phone.

Just like a computer crash, a cell phone crash isn’t a whole lot of fun either.

Categories: How To   
 

flohclub

Ever had a technical question, but had no clue what company to call that might be able to answer it? Well, now there is a service available seven days a week from 8 a.m to 2 a.m EST that can answer those quandaries for you.

The FloH Club was started by Florence Henderson of The Brady Bunch fame after she realized she couldn’t do anything with her cell phone beyond making a phone call. Partnering up with Support.com, anyone who lacks technical savvy can call the toll free number and get support with a wide range of tech support problems.  Fees run $25 a month, $250 a year or $50 for one-time incidents.

The staff of the FLoH Club is based in the United States and Canada, and are trained to answer everything from how to send an email to how to set up a networked computer.  If things get really complicated, the support people can log in to your computer with your permission and fix the problem in real-time while you watch them work.

This sounds like a great solution for some of the folks out there, and it’s nice to see a service like this that realizes that if you’re calling it, you are probably not a technical expert.

Categories: How To   
 

iPod Family 2009With new iPods out in force, how do you judge if it’s time for you to upgrade your current model, buy new or which one to give as a gift this upcoming holiday season? Hopefully we’ll be able to help you with all of those questions.

The new iPods for 2009 were announced yesterday, and while there weren’t a tremendous amount of upgrades to the overall line, it can still be difficult to pick one out.  Our first recommendation would be to go back and read our post from last year, How To Choose An iPod, as all of the questions it asks are still relevant.  After you read that, come back here and we’ll get down to the nitty gritty of this year’s models and what we recommend for each.

-sips coffee while he waits for you to read the other article-

Done reading the other article?  Good, here we go!

iPod Shuffle 09

iPod Shuffle

The iPod Shuffle is a bit of an odd duck in the iPod family of devices because it is the only one to feature actual buttons on the body of it. All the controls are operated from the headphones, and you have no way of seeing what songs are next and so on. While it is certainly the “kiddie” version of an iPod, it would be a good choice for someone who is rough on devices, young children, good for the gym due to potential accidents with weights and so on. For anyone over the age of 12, in general we would recommend a different model as the Shuffle is just too small for most people’s purposes.

Should I upgrade if I have an older model? I wouldn’t bother, nothing has really changed, and if you have a Shuffle with buttons, I would be reluctant to give it up.  If you have an older Shuffle, and you do have a hankering to buy a new player, I would highly recommend moving on to a completely different iPod unless you have really serious reasons to have a Shuffle.

iPod Nano 09

iPod Nano

The iPod Nano got the most serious upgrades this year, and become a better all around solution for your casual music listner, and is also sure to be a hit with teens this year due to the addition of the camera.

Holding either 8GB or 16GB of media, the Nano is a great choice for those with a decent sized music collection of music, and the wherewithal to actually sort out what songs they want to take with them when they leave the house or office.

With the additions of the built-in video camera, pedometer, FM tuner, microphone & speaker and other new items, the Nano has quickly become a whole lot more than a music player.  Due to its small physical size, the Nano fits so many scenarios such as travelling, being carried in a purse, strapped to your arm in the gym, slipping in your pocket and a whole lore more.

Should I upgrade if I have an older model? I would say this would be tempting this year just due to the addition of the camera.  The size of the camera lens troubles me some, but if you just want to shoot party videos or the like, this thing is perfect!  You can entertain the party AND photograph it at the same time.  I would recommend to anyone who buys a Nano this year go for the 16GB version, though.  The 8GB version costs $149, and the 16GB is only $30 more at $179.  Not springing for the bigger one could be a decision you very, very quickly regret, especially with the video function in the mix now.

iPod Classic 09

iPod Classic

The Classic is the work horse of the iPod family.  Sure it can play videos and display photos, it’s number one job is playing music, and lots of it.

The Classic is the only iPod to retain the original form factor of the popular device, and it hasn’t changed in quite a while now except to get thinner and bigger hard drive.  That is the other thing about the Classic, it is the only iPod to still run on a physical hard drive as opposed to flash memory like all of the other members of its little family.

While the Classic first had a 160GB hard drive in 2007, it fell back in size to 120GB in 2008 to keep its thickness down.  Well, this year it is back to 160GB while retaining the 120GB price of $249.

This iPod is only for people with giant music collections and no desire to sort what they take with them while on the go.  (-cough- guilty, party of one over here)

Should I upgrade if I have an older model? Only if you’re older one is broken, otherwise there is about zero reason to buy this year’s model.

iPod Touch 09

iPod Touch

The iPod Touch was introduced in 2007, and since then it just hasn’t changed that much.

Introduced as a simpler version of the iPhone (or simply an iPhone for people who didn’t want to deal with AT&T), the fancy iPod just isn’t getting updated like other members of the family over the years.  In 2008 the Touch received an external speaker, a memory bump and physical volume buttons.  This year it received an increase in processor speed and an increase in the memory capacity.  Why it didn’t receive a camera is a mystery, but there was no sign of it in the newest information.  (some rumors say there were technical problems, but that has still yet to be confirmed, and doubtful it ever will be as Apple is a very secretive company.)

This particular iPod fits in perfectly with college students who have frequent access to Wi-Fi, and is also great dor business users who want some of the benefits of the iPhone while not giving up their current phone.

Should I upgrade if I have an older model? I wouldn’t.  If you have a first generation (2007), maybe consider it, but if you have a second generation (2008), it is really pointless to do so.  Here’s hoping something significant will happen next year with this product.

Categories: Apple, Gadgets, How To, Shopping   
 

vhs tapeYou’ve found those old vhs or Digital 8 tapes you made years ago and wouldn’t it be fun to upload to YouTube to share with relatives and friends? But first you’ve got to get that video into your computer somehow. And how do they get those YouTube videos looking so good, anyway? Here’s a process I use on a weekly basis using free software tools.

I work with my church’s audio/visual committee and every week we record video of our church service and make the sermon available online. We record from an old Digital 8 camcorder to a digital video recorder and then make a DVD of the service which I take home with me to edit and upload. You may already have a DVR you can use to record your videotapes to DVD+/-Rs or use DVD+RWs that you can erase and reuse.

Please click “Read More” to continue reading the step-by-step instructions of how to do this.  Also, please click on any of the images in this article for a larger view of them.

Read More »

Categories: How To, Video   
 

Don’t you love when you find something online you want to show someone something you found on the Web, and you have an address like this to show them?

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/turmoil-hits-asia-markets-hong/story.aspx?guid={302CCE33-BF2C-4937-9BB0-4E9896E3C317}&dist=msr_16

Wouldn’t you prefer to read to someone, or email them, something like this?

http://tinyurl.com/6enjwj

If you click on both addresses, you’ll find they both take you to the same web site.  This is called a URL shortening service, and while it’s still not that pretty to look at, it’s certainly a heck of a lot shorter. (In case you are wondering, URL stands for “Uniform Resource Locator”, the true name of a Web address)

So how difficult is it to do?  Not at all! You can either go to a site like TinyURL.com and paste in your address, click a button and you have it.  The alternative is to add a bookmarklet to your browser which all that means is you visit their site and you drag the little address they tell you to up to your bookmarks.  Once you have that, you go to the page you wish to shorten, which can be any page, click the button, and it will shorten the address for you immediately.

Now, the last part of the address can be customized on most services, but remember that an address can’t be repeated, so it is highly unlikely you could have something like “/john”, but you can make it something that is easier for you to remember when you want to tell it to someone.

Typically I only discuss TinyURL as it is the one I always use, but there are over 90 URL shortening services out there, so you certainly can find one that works the best for you.

Categories: How To   
 

Yesterday we brought you a rundown of all the new iPods for 2008, but we also realize that some people still won’t know how to choose the right iPod for themselves or a loved one.

It can be confusing looking at all the various iPods and deciding which one will best suit your needs.  So we’re going to give you a short checklist to hopefully help you ease that decision somewhat.

Age

If you are buying for someone other than yourself, how old is the person? If they are a child, you are probably going to see a mixture of a fair amount of use and not being quite as careful. Under the age of 10 would probably be best suited to an iPod Shuffle due to ease of use, low cost and sturdy construction. Ages 11 – 16 I would say an iPod Nano due to cool colors, decent storage size and the ability to do more. After the age of 16 you’ll probably need to look at other factors.

Number of Songs

How many songs does the person currently have in their music collection? And a second part of that question should be how much of the collection they want to take with them.  If they only have a small collection, but fit the age criteria from above, I would say a Nano.  A moderate collection would fall under the iPod Touch, and huge collections would have to go with the iPod Classic.

Video

Do they want to watch videos? If so, all but the Shuffle will play video, but you need to factor in amount of videos and how good their eye sight is. While the Nano and Classic will play videos, this is one area where the Touch really shines.

Internet

The only iPod to have Internet connectivity is the iPod Touch. If they are a heavy Internet user, this is the perfect choice for them, and with the ability to watch YouTube, and use streaming music apps like Pandora or Last.fm, it really extends this one beyond it’s maximum size of 32GB.

Summary

While it may seem daunting to pick out an expensive gadget for someone, it really is no more complicated than buying any other gift. It all centers on how well you know the person, what their needs are and what your budget is.  Don’t let all the shiny colors scare you, the iPods won’t bite you, we promise.

Categories: How To   
 

mozbackup logoWe’ve talked about Firefox before, and how much we love it, but now comes the question of how you backup this wonderful tool.

You can backup Firefox anytime you want, but it takes several steps and can be a bit confusing.  There is a tool that has been built specifically for this task, and it only takes a few easy steps that you can easily follow by using the wizard.

MozBackup is a stand alone desktop application that you open up, follow the onscreen prompts, choose if the file should be password protected or not, and you are off to a complete backup of your favorite browser.

mozbackup

As you can see from this screenshot of the program, you can choose just about every aspect of the program to be backed up.  When ou need to restore the program due to a crash, or setting up an identical copy of Firefox on another computer, all you need to do is open the program again, choose the file and click “Restore” instead of “Backup” and it will take care of the rest.

The program works with the current version of Firefox and is essential for all heavy users of the program.

Categories: How To   
 

We discussed in How To Organize Your Windows XP Start Menu – Part 1 what you do to move folders around in your Start Menu, but now comes the question of how you move things around in and out of folders.

start menu 21

The first thing you need to do is to go to “Start” and then “My Computer”.

start menu 22

You will then click on your “Local Disk”, usually named “C” and locate the folder named “Documents and Settings”.  You will need to double click that folder to open it up.

start menu 23

Once inside in “Documents and Settings”, you will need to locate the folder named “All Users” and double click on that to open it up.

start menu 24

The next to last folder you need to go to is “Start Menu” inside of “All Users”.

start menu 25

Finally, the last folder is “Programs” inside of “Start Menu”.  Is it any wonder that people don’t know where this is hiding?  Once you have Programs open, you move folders around just like you would for a normal file move, create new folders, delete others ad so on.

A typical example of folders I like to condense is all the various Google products.  Every time you install one of their programs, they seem to feel that means you need another folder in your start menu.  So I like to create a folder names “Google”, and then move things like Google Desktop, Google Earth, Google Talk and so on inside of that folder, causing them to take up much less room in your Start menu.

While this may sound like general house keeping, it is, but it is well worth taking an hour of your time every so often just to organize your folders for your own sanity.

Categories: How To   
 

Even though Windows Vista is out, there are still plenty of people using Windows XP.  One thing I notice when I sit down at other people’s computers is how disorganized their Start menu is.

As you install new programs, new folders get added to the Start menu, and they got placed all over the board, with no real order to them.  In this first part we’re just going to show you the simpliest thing you can do which is just dragging the folders to some place else, hopefully addind some order to your programs.

start menu 1

The first thing you want to do is just click once on the folder you wish to move with your left mouse button.  This will turn the selected item blue.

start menu 2

You will then click on it once more, and while holding down the left mouse button, you want to drag it to the area you want to drop it.  If you are doing this properly you will see a shadow of the folder with it’s name, and a black bar will show up between folders to show you where it would end up when you release the button.

start menu 3

Once you’ve got the black bar where you want it, release the left mouse button and the folder will drop into that spot.  All done!

In part 2 I will be covering how to condense folders.

Categories: How To   
 

blog revenueYou’ve set up your blog somewhere that allows advertising, so now what do you do to make money?

The first thing you do is realize that you probably won’t be making a whole lot, if any.  It seems like such an easy concept to just start your blog and start having the money roll in, but it sadly isn’t that easy.  You will need traffic, good content and need to make sure you don’t pick the wrong types of ads.

Affiliate Programs

Amazon.com probably runs the most well known of the affiliate programs, but there are literally thousands of them out there for just about every niche you can think of. You place an ad on your blog, and a reader clicks on it to go to the companies website, they are marked as having come from your page. If they purchase anything, you receive a varying percentage of that transaction. Some programs will even allow the customer time to think, and if they return to the site within a specified amount of time, you still earn credit for the sale.

Display Ads

These are any graphical ads on a blog. You usually will want to contact companies directly about them purchasing advertising space. This has become more popular as of late due to being steady income where as the others all rely on user interaction to generate revenue.

Inline Ads

These are those words you see in some blogs that have two lines under them, and when you have your mouse over it, an ad pops up. This is another one to stay away from as it usually turns readers off because they have to be careful where they hover their mouse on your page.

Pop-ups/Pop-unders

These are uckily dying off, but pop-ups show up right in front of you without you doing anything, and pop-unders hide behind your web browser until you close it. Both are not a good way of winning over your users, and should should be avoided.

Sponsored Reviews

This is one of those ads you want to avoid. A company will pay you write about them, and in the process, this can damage your standings with some search engines as they frown upon such intrusive advertising.

Text Ads

This is usually accomplished through Google AdSense, but there are other systems out there.  These allow you to put little blocks of what look to be classified ads on your site, and you hope people click on them.  When they do, you get paid varying amounts of money based on how much the advertiser has bid.

In the end, you should use whatever form of advertising makes you the happiest, but do definitely heed our warnings on the bad ones.

Categories: How To   
 
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